Saturday, November 12, 2011

5 for Sunday

"The Opposite" last week helped stop the bleeding, but still proved to be less than profitable. Oh well, sometimes the actual instinct is the way to go. Fortunately, still just one game under .500 as we move on to Week 10, when the weather starts to get cold, Thursday games and flex scheduling take effect, and the playoff races take shape. Home teams in CAPS.

Tennessee (+3.5) over CAROLINA
Despite the wondrous efforts of Cam Newton in his rookie year, Carolina is largely feast-or-famine. I really don't think the 2-6 Panthers are good enough to be more than 3-point favorites at home to anyone besides the Colts. If Chris Johnson shows up at all for the Titans (a very big IF), then they should be able to beat Carolina by double digits. In the likelihood that Johnson doesn't show up, the Titans offense is extremely pedestrian...and still has a decent chance to come out on top or at least keep it to a field goal game either way.

DALLAS (-5.5) over Buffalo
A few interesting storylines here. One, Bills WR David Nelson is dating Cowboys cheerleader Kelsi Reich. Two, the land acquired to build Cowboys Stadium was actually the neighborhood in which Bills RB Fred Jackson grew up. Three, Bills head coach Chan Gailey faces his old team for the first time since his two-year tenure as Cowboys head coach, during which he never met a called dump pass on 3rd-and-12 that he didn't like. Four, Miles Austin is out for this game and for the next few weeks. The book might be out on Buffalo if their thrashing at the hands of the Jets is any indication, and as long as you refrain from giving the ball away on offense the Bills are quite beatable. Just for fun, here's what happened the last time these two teams met.

Baltimore (-7) over SEATTLE
It took long enough, but the Ravens woke up against Pittsburgh last week and are now in the driver's seat of the AFC North race at 6-2, with two games in hand over Pittsburgh and both games with Cincinnati still to come. Now they get to take their licks against Tarvaris Jackson and the hapless Seahawks, who ran the ball very well last week against Dallas but did so largely because the Cowboys were missing their top MLB Sean Lee. It's highly unlikely that Marshawn Lynch sees the running lanes against Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, et al that he saw against Dallas. It's a bit dubious to lay this many points with a team going on such a long road trip, but the fact remains that Baltimore is a significantly better team than Seattle is.

Detroit (+3) over CHICAGO
The Lions treated Jay Cutler like a rag doll in the last meeting between these teams, and thanks to their Tebowing in Denver a few weeks ago, they're now the NFL's new bad boys. Chicago is sure to protect Cutler better than they did against the Lions in Week 5, but that doesn't mean he'll have nearly the time and space to throw that he did last Monday against the Eagles. I'm leery of taking Detroit because their running back situation is terrible, but they are coming off of a bye while the Bears are on a short week. This game figures to be very close, the 21-20 or 24-23 variety, so I'll take the points and grit my teeth.

GREEN BAY (-13) over Minnesota (Monday Night)
This line opened at 14 or even 14.5, so enough Vikings money has come in to bring it down to 13. That's not a huge surprise given how the Vikings played the Packers pretty tight at the Metrodome just three weeks ago (Sidebar: how seriously weird is that? Minnesota is in a stretch of schedule where two out of three games are against Green Bay.) Even Charles Woodson came out and said the Packers' defense has to play much better and can't be so reliant on pick-sixes and other big-play turnovers to win games. I still think that one of these weeks someone is going to expose that Packers defense to a point to which not even Aaron Rodgers can trade touchdowns, but the Vikings are not that team, and this will not be that week.

Last Week: 2-3-0
Season: 20-21-4

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